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Physical Force vs. Rational Discussion and Debate

August 12, 2011

The most recent anonymous internet attacks on me contain a very important key to naming the nature of the disagreement and problem certain people have with me, my criticism and expression of concern about potentially harmful therapies. Many of the postings attack me for engaging in “pointless” debates. Whether they are “pointless” are a matter of opinion. For example, one of the so-called “pointless” debates referred to a discussion in which I expressed my concerns about the way in which people behave when they are anonymous, and how the social psychology literature shows that when anonymous, people can sink to a lower level of decency and behave in ways they would not if they revealed their identity. I think this is a very important and relevant issue to discuss when it comes to activism, but some saw this as a threat and will attack anyone who challenges them. This is not to say that all people who post anonymously are that way. There can be legitimate reasons for remaining anonymous and these do need to be protected by the Constitution. For example, victims of abuse who could be in danger from their abusers and yet want to go public are doing much good by blowing the whistle, even if it is done anonymously. However, when anonymity is used to post malicious lies about a person and engage in senseless attacks, as has been done to me, that’s where the line needs to be drawn.

I suppose to people who advocate the use of physical force on children to induce obedience and who attack people on the internet and post lies about them while remaining anonymous, debates and questioning are pointless. I beg to differ.

Additionally the groundless assumption is made that people who engage in such discussions only talk and don’t do anything.  The internet smear campaigners do not know me, have never met me and are in no position to know what I do or do not do. One thing I have never done and never intend to do is use physical force against others to induce compliance. On the contrary, I am content to express my opinions, make my case and leave others free to make their own choices and let nature dole out the consequences. If harm is being done to the innocent, then I also campaign for change in legislation and urge authorities to take action to enforce existing legislation, but physical force is never the answer, nor are lies. I strive to truthfully report everything I write about and where I report facts, I back them up. Ronald Federici, when he attempted to sue me was unable to state any claim against me that held up in a court of law. Hence, his claim against me and several others was dismissed.

Rational discussion and debate are the antithesis (opposite) of enforcement and control of behavior via physical force. People who have the need to control others and demand unquestioning obedience, however, have a problem with my way of rational discussion, debate and verbal challenge because people are always free to disagree and not do what one wants them to do. People are perfectly free to read the contents of this blog, decide they do not agree and disregard it all. The same cannot be said, however for a child who is pinned down to the floor for hours at a time.

Most interesting and telling are the postings that lie that am violent and then link to online discussions I have participated in where I did nothing more than challenge and disagree with others. Is that violence? No, of course not. Discussion, challenge, expression of disagreement and debate is the opposite of physical violence. If nothing else, these attacks on me and others have provided us a window into the belief system of those who promote questionable interventions for children and others. If the posted comments are any indication, such people despise discussion, debate and challenge and especially those who dare to disagree. After all, they can wrestle a disobedient child to the ground and pin that child down until he or she becomes unquestioningly obedient. They cannot do the same to me and attempts to get the legal system to force me into silence have also failed because I have a Constitutional right to free speech, which includes the expression of my sincerely held opinions about such matter and a Federal judge has upheld this. The only recourse they have is to throw the cyber tantrums we see online, posts that come up on Google searches on my name which contain ridiculous and easily refutable lies (e.g. the most recent lie that I was arrested when any criminal background check on me comes up completely clean) posted anonymously, of course, because such statements, if the culprit could be identified would very likely qualify as libel per se, which means that the lies are so intrinsically damaging that damages would not have to be proven. The culprits are counting on not being caught but if there are ever defectors from their ranks who have a conscience and come forward, they may yet be caught and identified by such defectors blowing the whistle.

One can tell a great deal about a person by the way he or she responds to such challenges. If the response is personal attacks and a smear campaign against critics, that is a major red flag. Ironically, it is sometimes people in the anti-cult community who are the worst offenders when their own beliefs about cults are challenged.

What it comes down to is a concept known as controllability. People who question and issue verbal challenges of others are indeed seen as a big threat to those who seek to control others because there are people who will not be coerced with lies being posted on the internet. The use of physical coercion against children also frequently backfires. BF Skinner and other behaviorists have found that punishment, in the long run does not work (and yes, no matter how much proponents want to deny it, pinning a child to the floor in order to stop unwanted behavior fits the behavioral definition of punishment). It may even increase the unwanted behaviors. When this happens, the solution of the believers in physically coercive methods is yet more of the same. Just keep in mind, that no matter how many unsupported claims are made, the fact is that such interventions from self-published books have not been properly tested with randomized clinical trials or any studies published in peer reviewed journals. Of course, it is desirable to wish to control a child who is engaging in harmful behavior towards others and stop those behaviors but the large body of research reviewed by agencies such as SAMHSA, shows that physical restraint and physically coercive tactics are not the effective way to do this. Their video, which I reviewed elsewhere on this blog, demonstrates that there are many more effective alternatives that do not use physical coercion. Physical restraint of a child or anyone  else is reserved for the most immediate emergencies and even then, the least restrictive methods needed are used. Physical restraint is never used as a consequence of violating rules or being verbally defiant, nor is it used if the child backs down.

Vigorous discussion, challenge and debate are the antidote to control via physical force and violence. For those who attack me and others for daring to engage in such discussions, it says far more about them than it does about those who are the objects of such attacks.

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